GBL death: drug 'should be banned within months', says Government chief advisor

By Synesthesiac · May 18, 2009 · ·
  1. Synesthesiac
    GBL death: drug 'should be banned within months', says Government chief advisor

    GBL, a legal party drug that killed a promising medical student, should be banned within months, the Government chief advisor on drugs said.

    HesterStewart_1394891c.jpg Hester Stewart, 21, was studying molecular medicine at Sussex University

    The Daily Telegraph disclosed that Hester Stewart, 21, an "outstanding'' student whose ambition was to become a surgeon, died after taking the GBL in Brighton last month.

    Prof David Nutt yesterday stressed that he had made a "strong recommendation" that it should be controlled - in a report published last August - and said he was "very optimistic" that officials would act imminently.

    He spoke after The Telegraph had asked questions on behalf of Miss Stewart's family about GBL at a meeting of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), that he chaired in London. "It is well known that we made a strong recommendation that it should be controlled and we are hoping that will be happening very shortly," he said. "It should not take very long." Prof Nutt added that GBL was "unquestionably as dangerous" as GHB, the similar date-rape drug that was made illegal in 2003.

    Maryon Stewart, Hester's mother, said after the meeting: "It is comforting that he has reiterated the recommendation and that he is optimistic that it will be banned for use in the very near future. I hope that the Home Secretary will recognise the urgency of this situation and share that viewpoint." Mrs Stewart has written to Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, calling for the drug to be banned immediately. She believes her daughter would still be alive had she been aware of the risks of taking the substance.

    Toxicology test results have now confirmed that GBL was found in Miss Stewart's body and police have told her parents that the drug, mixed with a small amount of alcohol, was the direct cause of her death. GBL - which is used as an industrial solvent - can be bought on the internet for as little as 10 pence a dose. Because it is used in the plastics industry, as a nail polish remover and to clean bicycle chains, officials have been delayed in framing the legislation while they consult industry.

    It has already been banned for personal use in America, Canada and Sweden. A spokesman for the Home Office said: "We have not committed to ban GBL or classify it as a drug at this stage but work continues to look at how access to this chemical can be restricted to legitimate purposes. A consultation will be shortly launched with the chemical industry and the wider public before a decision is made." GBL is one of the many "legal high" drugs available, some of which are thought to be harmless even though they can prove deadly.

    The ACMD said yesterday that they had also recently written to the Home Secretary about the herbal mixture called Spice, which is sold as an alternative to cannabis. Prof Leslie Iversen said that the herbal mixture was laced with synthetic chemicals which can make it up to 100 times more potent than cannabis. "The risks are unknown and are potentially very great," he said. Prof Iversen added that the drug suppliers had found an "ingenius" business model that avoided the cannabis law.

    The telegraph:
    By Richard Edwards, Crime Correspondent Last Updated: 10:48PM BST 14 May 2009 Hester Stewart

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  1. Synesthesiac
    20 may have died from taking party drug GBL, warns Harley Street doctor

    Up to 20 people may have died as a result of taking the legal party drug GBL, a Harley Street doctor warned, as the mother of a 21-year-old victim wrote to Jacqui Smith demanded the substance to be banned.

    [imgr="white"][/imgr]Politicians and medical experts joined the call for the substance to be made illegal after The Daily Telegraph disclosed the death of medical student Hester Stewart.

    The Home Office has failed to ban GBL despite saying that it would be made illegal eight months ago after being advised to do so by the Government's drugs advisors.

    Dr Sean Cummings, who runs a private GP clinic in Harley Street London which specialises in drugs patients and has come across many cases of GBL poisonings, revealed that around six people a year have died from it since it emerged in the past few years.

    Available at just 50p a dose, it is similar to the notorious banned "date-rape" drug GHB, and converts into that substance in the stomach, which can be lethal in tiny doses when mixed with alcohol.
    "It is a very dangerous drug," Dr Cummins said.
    "On the clubbing scene I would say that GBL poisonings are a daily occurrence.
    "There is also anecdotal evidence from a barman in one club in south London that said he had lost seven of his friends in one year."

    Because GBL also has a use as an industrial solvent – in the plastics industry and as a nail polish remover – officials have been delayed in framing legislation, despite it being banned for personal use in America, Canada and Sweden.

    Dr Cummins said: "It does not surprise me that it has not been banned - the Government have a consistent history of ignoring the advice of the drugs committee.

    "Many of the decisions are made in the best interests of politics rather than the long term health of the nation."

    One Labour MP introduced a Bill in the Commons last October last year to ban GBL and said that it could be passed into law in just 90 minutes.
    An influential Commons committee will examine this summer the Home Office's approach to illegal drugs and why some harmful drugs are still legal. Sources said that the concerns about the continuing legality of GBL would be raised.

    Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, said: "I am shocked and disappointed that the Home Office hesitated on their decision to ban GBL. I am concerned at the length of time the Home Office has taken to prohibit the drug; it is unacceptable that this drug is still legal."
    In a statement released to The Daily Telegraph, Maryon Stewart, Hester's mother, welcomed the inquiry.

    "We intend to campaign as a family to get this lethal substance banned in the UK," she said.
    "If the Home Office had followed advice our daughter would still be alive and we would not now be living in hell.
    "We are opening the campaign by writing to the Home Secretary requesting an immediate inquiry into why this lethal substance, GBL, was not banned last year as recommended."

    Miss Stewart, whose ambition was to become a surgeon, was found dead at a house in Brighton on Sunday morning, after a friend called police and said that she had taken a liquid drug called GBL.

    Police are investigating whether she took the drug knowingly, but a long-term friend has told Miss Stewart's family that she "never ever took drugs" and would "never have knowingly taken this substance".

    A Home Office spokesman said: "Evidence suggests misuse of GBL is low, but the Government accepts that there are associated harms.

    "We have not committed to ban GBL or classify it as a drug at this stage but work continues to look at how access to this chemical can be restricted to legitimate purposes.

    "The Advisory Council of the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) noted in its provisional recommendation that GBL has a number of legitimate uses, such as cleaning agents, paints and nail polish.
    "A consultation will shortly be launched with the chemical industry and the wider public before a decision is made."
    ** THE Stewart family are setting up a memorial fund in Hester's memory which will campaign for GBL to be banned and then work to raise awareness to parents, teachers, students and children of the dangers of social substances. Please send donations to: Hester Stewart Memorial Foundation, PO Box 117, Rottingdean, BN51 9BG

    From the Telegraph:
    By Richard Edwards and Christopher Hope
    Last Updated: 8:44PM BST 29 Apr 2009

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